AFP/Birmingham, United Kingdom
New Zealand overpowered England by eight wickets in the second Test at Edgbaston yesterday as they sealed a 1-0 series win with more than a day to spare.
Set a target of just 38 after England tailender Olly Stone was out to the very first ball of the fourth day, the Blackcaps finished on 41-2.
Tom Latham, captaining the team in place of the injured Kane Williamson, hit the winning boundary to be 23 not out after the first Test of a two-match series at Lord’s last week ended in a draw.
Victory gave New Zealand just a third win in 18 Test series in England, and a first this century after their 1986 and 1999 triumphs.
And it means they will head into next week’s inaugural World Test Championship final against India at Southampton in confident mood.
“It’s great to get an extra day of rest before India but we’ll celebrate as well – we’ve not won here since 1999 so it’s important to celebrate those achievements,” said Latham at the presentation ceremony.
By contrast, this was England’s first series loss at home since a 2014 defeat by Sri Lanka.
“It hasn’t been our best week, has it?” England captain Joe Root told BBC Radio after his side came into this match missing Ollie Robinson, with the Sussex seamer suspended after a promising on-field Test debut at Lord’s for historic racist and sexist Twitter posts.
“I think we’ve massively underperformed. Credit to New Zealand, they have outperformed us throughout the game.”
A lively crowd at a sun-drenched Edgbaston roared James Anderson, making an England record 162nd Test appearance, onto the field when the No 11 walked out to bat with Stone and again when he opened the bowling.
But it was longstanding new-ball partner Stuart Broad who took the first New Zealand wicket to fall on Sunday when he had Blackcaps player of the series Devon Conway caught behind for three.
New Zealand were in sight of victory when Will Young was bowled by Olly Stone.
Latham then ended the match courtesy of a four down to third man off fast bowler Mark Wood as New Zealand reached their target in 10.5 overs, with only 52 minutes play on Sunday needed to wrap up the match.
England resumed on the brink of defeat at 122-9 in their second innings, a lead of just 37 runs, after slumping to 76-7 on Saturday.
Stone then fell for his overnight 15 when caught behind off left-arm quick Trent Boult.
Matt Henry, one of an extraordinary six changes to the New Zealand side that played at Lord’s, took the first three wickets to fall in a return of 3-36, with Neil Wagner following up with 3-1
Such is the Blackcaps’ strength in depth, however, that either bowler could be replaced by the rested Tim Southee in the WTC final.
Henry was named player of the match following overall figures of 6-114.
“It’s pretty easy to get motivated to play for your country,” said fast bowler Henry. “We’ve had a strong squad for a while and every time you get the opportunity you want to do your best.”
South Africa-born opener Conway was named New Zealand’s player of the series after he followed a remarkable 200 on Test debut at Lord’s with 80 in the first innings of this match.
“Definitely didn’t believe it would go this well,” said Conway.
“It’s very special to win here in England and it’ll take some time for that to sink in.”
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